One billion people

Mark Zuckerberg announced that one billion people used Facebook in a single day for the first time.

On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family. […] I’m so proud of our community for the progress we’ve made. Our community stands for giving every person a voice, for promoting understanding and for including everyone in the opportunities of our modern world. A more open and connected world is a better world. It brings stronger relationships with those you love, a stronger economy with more opportunities, and a stronger society that reflects all of our values.

There is also a video celebrating the milestone (which, ironically, I discovered on Twitter).

Facebook has had more than a billion total users for a while, but having that many people using the service in a single day is a significant accomplishment from a community, business, and sysadmin perspective. The service truly is a central node in the network that connects people over the Internet, and there would be far fewer individuals participating online without it.

Mark sounds sincere in his belief in the social good of the community that has built up within and around Facebook. It is likely that the sometimes creepy advertising and privacy violations are an unfortunate cost of doing business, but that he still believes in the core of the product and what it was from the beginning—a way to keep up with and follow the people and things you care about.

The hip thing to do these days is to opt-out of using Facebook—or to only use portions of it like Messenger, Groups, or Instagram. Increasingly though, refusing to use Facebook means missing out on the potential for online community with those outside of the closely knit online tech circles. There are plenty of places to find community online, but none of them are as universally accessible as Facebook.

That fact that Facebook keeps getting bigger does not mean the Open Web is doomed or that there will be more homogeneity online. Everyone’s experience of the platform (just like Twitter) entirely up to who you connect with and how you choose to participate.

Coffee houses were the distracting social media of the 1600s

Coffee houses were the distracting social media of the 1600s

The Ciphers of Social Media

The Ciphers of Social Media

16th Century social media

Social media brought attention to and was even the force behind several social revolutions in the past 12 months. However, The Economist show that the use of social networks for societal change is nothing new, citing how Luther went viral in the 16th Century.

The rate of technological progress creates a strong urge to believe the world we live in today is unique and different from everything that’s come before, but looking at other periods of technological change in history reveal the similar routes revolutions take when new technological tools become available.

Modern society tends to regard itself as somehow better than previous ones, and technological advance reinforces that sense of superiority. But history teaches us that there is nothing new under the sun. Robert Darnton, an historian at Harvard University, who has studied information-sharing networks in pre-revolutionary France, argues that “the marvels of communication technology in the present have produced a false consciousness about the past—even a sense that communication has no history, or had nothing of importance to consider before the days of television and the internet.” Social media are not unprecedented: rather, they are the continuation of a long tradition. Modern digital networks may be able to do it more quickly, but even 500 years ago the sharing of media could play a supporting role in precipitating a revolution. Today’s social-media systems do not just connect us to each other: they also link us to the past.

(via The Economist)